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‘Jake’ ratings in progress

Modest numbers for Stamos starrer

ABC continues to have a tough time with series programming on Thursday, as new comedy “Jake in Progress” opened modestly on its regular night.

Even though its timeslot premiere was designed to put it against softer-than-usual competish — basketball rather than “Survivor” on CBS — the John Stamos laffer “Jake in Progress” was no match for NBC’s “Will & Grace” (even with subpar numbers) or Fox’s “The OC.”

Still, it performed better than any other series ABC has tried recently in Thursday’s opening hour, including “Life as We Know It” and “Extreme Makeover.”

According to Nielsen, “Jake in Progress” averaged a 2.2 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 7.03 million viewers overall at 8 o’clock and then a 2.3/6 and 6.64 million with a second original seg at 8:30. An original and a repeat of “Will & Grace” averaged a 3.6/11 in 18-49 opposite “Jake,” while Fox’s “The OC” scored a 3.4/10 and a Jeff Foxworthy spec on the WB nabbed a solid 1.7/5.

ABC wasn’t expecting to rise above fourth in the time period, but it would like to see better numbers from “Jake.”

One thing the Alphabet may want to look at is how repeats of “Jake’s” Sunday preview episodes fared from 9 to 10 — the only weeknight hour before 10 when there are no comedies skedded. With NBC and the WB shifting to reality in the hour, Thursday’s repeats of last Sunday’s “Jake” preview segs scored a third-place 2.5/6 in 18-49 at both 9 and 9:30.

CBS Sports, meanwhile, is off to a strong start with the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, as its coverage on Thursday and Friday netted a 5.0 household rating/11 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights — up 4% from last year (4.8/10) and the best two-day average since the Eye began airing full-day coverage in 1991.

Driving the growth were a pair of big upsets on Friday: Vermont’s victory over Syracuse in the early primetime window (7-9:30 p.m. ET) averaged a 6.3/11 in the overnights, followed by a 6.4/11 from 9:30 to 12:15 a.m. for No. 14-seeded Bucknell’s stunning triumph over No. 3-seeded Kansas.

Action resumes Thursday evening on CBS, with the championship game set for April 4 on the network.

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